The Most Important Position Each NFL Team Must Address in 2021 NFL Draft

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystApril 4, 2021

The Most Important Position Each NFL Team Must Address in 2021 NFL Draft

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    Doug Murray/Associated Press

    The "best player available" method is a myth. In some form or fashion, every NFL team weighs need as part of the draft equationwhether it's immediate or part of the organization's long-term planning.

    Free agency can only do so much. Besides, the offseason stage shouldn't be viewed as a way to build a roster. Signings are meant to accentuate the roster and open up options once the draft begins.

    Teams are primarily built through the acquisition and development of young (and cheap) talent.

    As the start of the 2021 draft on April 29 nears, every projected lineup has question marks, some more glaring than others. Identifying and addressing those areas tend to determine whether a franchise's draft class is successful.

    To be clear, a team's biggest need doesn't have to be solved in the first round. How a front office stacks its class based on the available talent is important. At the same time, the following positions can't be overlooked by their squads before the draft closes May 1 in Cleveland.

Arizona Cardinals: Cornerback

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    Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press

    The years roll by like tumbleweed, and the Arizona Cardinals continue to do nothing of significance at cornerback.

    Seriously, the Cardinals had Patrick Peterson for 10 seasons, and the search for a proper bookend never stopped. Now, Peterson is gone after signing with the Minnesota Vikings, and Arizona is still looking foryou guessed itquality outside corners.

    Sure, the organization re-signed Robert Alford and inked Malcolm Butler to a free-agent deal. A pair of 30-something cornerbacks on one-year prove-it contracts is not the way to build a roster.

    Byron Murphy Jr. shows a lot of promise, but he's at his best working over the slot.

    Arizona reached the point where the search for one outside corner has turned into two. The premium position should receive plenty of attention during the draft.

Atlanta Falcons: Quarterback

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    A franchise-altering decision awaits the Atlanta Falcons, and the organization should eagerly accept the opportunity to make a significant change.

    Matt Ryan remains a capable quarterback. Yet the soon-to-be 36-year-old is a financial burden on the Falcons' long-term planning under new general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith, though the decision to restructure his contract makes it manageable for the upcoming season. 

    As of now, his salary-cap hit escalates to $48.7 and $43.6 million in 2022 and '23. However, next offseason the organization can cut him or trade him with a post-June 1 designation and save $23.8 million, per Over the Cap.    

    As the owner of the fourth overall pick, Atlanta can marry the new regime to its quarterback of choiceand it should. Ryan can start this fall, while the team's future can sit and learn before taking over in 2022.

Baltimore Ravens: Edge-Rusher

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Three of the Baltimore Ravens' top four sacks artists from last season are no longer with the team. Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and Jihad Ward signed free-agents deals with the New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively. 

    The franchise retained Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee, so it isn't devoid of edge talent. But those two and their combined five sacks last season are merely a starting point.

    The Ravens require more juice to create consistent pressure. Bowser, whom the team selected in the second round of the 2017 class, has the potential to emerge as Baltimore's primary edge-rusher. On the other hand, McPhee turns 33 in December.

    Basically, Baltimore doesn't have guaranteed production from its pass-rushers. Even if it gets some from those mentioned, the defensive rotation is thin and requires more consistency.

Buffalo Bills: Cornerback

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills re-signed cornerback Levi Wallace this offseason to play opposite Tre'Davious White. The investment in Wallace says a lot about how the organization feels about the position. 

    The 25-year-old inked a one-year, $1.8 million deal. Basically, he wasn't offered starter money despite starting 35 games in his first three seasons. 

    On top of that, the organization didn't retain veteran Josh Norman. 

    Technically, the Bills are set at their three cornerback spots, with Taron Johnson working the slot. Johnson could get a shot working outside more often. Even then, the need shifts to nickel corner.

    Johnson's contractual status adds yet another wrinkle since he's a free agent after this season. 

    It's clear that general manager Brandon Beane will look to address cornerback at some point to find a long-term option opposite White.

Carolina Panthers: Quarterback

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Anytime ownership steps into the decision-making process, the area of concern becomes the driving force behind everything the organization does. 

    With the Carolina Panthers, David Tepper is "obsessed" with upgrading the quarterback position, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB.

    Current starter Teddy Bridgewater is a quality quarterback. He set career highs last season with a 69.1 percent completion rate, 3,733 passing yards and 20 total touchdowns. Even so, the Panthers know they can go only so far with Bridgewater leading the way. 

    "And the main reason for it, as I've heard it, is that he's very clearly shown the physical limitations that limited interest in him as a free agent last year," Breer added. 

    As such, the Panthers will likely do everything in their power to select one of this year's top-five quarterbacks, whether they find a way to trade up or stand pat at No. 8 and choose whichever prospect remains available.

Chicago Bears: Right Tackle

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    The quarterback situation is what it is in Chicago. The Bears will almost certainly move forward with Andy Dalton and Nick Foles as their top options. From there, the next best step is putting as much talent around those veterans as possible, starting with the offensive line. 

    General manager Les Snead placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Allen Robinson II and signed Damien Williams to improve the backfield. The skill positions are relatively set. Fortifications are necessary up front, particularly on the right side. 

    Chicago brought back Germain Ifedi and signed Elijah Wilkinson, but both are replacement-level performers at best.

    The 2021 draft class is deep at offensive tackle. With the 20th overall pick, Chicago should be positioned well to select a Day 1 starter on the strong side. If not, starting-caliber prospects will be available during the second and possibly even third rounds.

Cincinnati Bengals: Offensive Line

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    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Bengals are sitting pretty with this year's fifth overall pick. 

    Three quarterbacks are expected to be off the board within the first three selections. Then, the Atlanta Falcons have a choice between a quarterback or possibly Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. If Atlanta goes in either of those directions, Cincinnati will have its pick of LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase or Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell. 

    Both are fantastic talents, though the latter is far more important to the franchise. 

    Quarterback Joe Burrow can have all the weapons in the world, but it won't matter if he's trying to throw from his backside. Protection should take priority at all costs, especially since Cincinnati didn't do enough to improve its offensive line in free agency. 

    Even if Chase becomes the team's initial pick, the Bengals can address their front five with a quality prospect near the top of Round 2.

Cleveland Browns: Outside Cornerback

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns did everything in their power to improve the defense at the start of free agency, and they shouldn't stop there.

    Safety John Johnson III and nickel corner Troy Hill are welcome additions after the Browns fielded one of the league's thinnest secondaries. Anthony Walker Jr. will take over at middle linebacker for B.J. Goodson. Takkarist McKinley provides potential at defensive end, while veteran Malik Jackson adds depth to the defense front.

    Both defensive end and cornerback are still alarming.

    In this case, cornerback gets the nod. The premium position has a projected starter coming back from a significant injury. Nerve damage in Greedy Williams' right shoulder prevented him from playing last season. He could resume his role, but the Browns can't assume that is an inevitability.

Dallas Cowboys: Defensive Tackle

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    David Berding/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys were awful on defense last season. The run defense happened to be far worse than the secondary. 

    Opponents dominated the Cowboys at the point of attack, and the team finished 31st in rushing yards allowed per game (158.8) and 30th in yards allowed per carry (5.0). 

    Dallas has young investments along the defensive interior in Trysten Hill, 23, and Neville Gallimore, 24, but they don't excel at controlling their gaps. Antwaun Woods is the best of the bunch, but he's mediocre. 

    The Cowboys have a lot invested in their linebackers, and cornerback is probably a bigger target with the 10th overall pick. Yet the team can't walk away from this year's draft without getting a legitimate run-stuffer. Those types aren't as valuable as they once were, but the ability to control the line of scrimmage and let the talent work behind them can be priceless.

Denver Broncos: Inside Linebacker

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Off-ball linebackers are considered devalued, but four could come off the board in this year's first round. With the ninth overall pick, the Denver Broncos are the most likely candidates to dip their toes into the talent pool before anyone else. 

    Penn State's Micah Parsons, Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Tulsa's Zaven Collins and Kentucky's Jamin Davis all bring different traits. Their athleticism isn't in question, though. All four are made to play today's game because of their natural movement skills. 

    The Broncos must become more athletic along their second line of defense.

    Before taking over as the Broncos head coach in 2019, Vic Fangio was the defensive coordinator in Chicago and saw the Bears draft Roquan Smith with the eighth overall pick in 2018. Smith has unbelievable range. Denver's current inside linebackers—A.J. Johnson and Josey Jewell—don't. 

    Besides, Johnson and Jewell are free agents after the upcoming season.

Detroit Lions: Wide Receiver

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions wide receivers just might be the league's worst position group. 

    The unit went from featuring Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. to Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman. The latter two are solid, but their value lies in a specific skill. They're both vertical targets. Williams wins with his size (6'4", 205 lbs) and length, while Perriman is a burner with awesome straight-line speed (4.25 40-yard dash). 

    Neither is a complete receiver who is capable of serving as the team's No. 1 target. This is especially concerning since Detroit may be looking at a different approach to team building. 

    "You used to build from the inside out. Well, today's league, I think you build from the outside in," Chris Spielman—the special assistant to team owner and chairman Sheila Ford Hamp and president and CEO Rod Wood—said in February, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

    This year's seventh overall pick better be earmarked for one of the class' top wide receivers.

Green Bay Packers: Cornerback

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Guess who's back, back again? Kevin King is back, tell a Packers fan. 

    The response should be hilarious because the Green Bay faithful haven't had enough time to expunge King's performance in the NFC Championship Game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from their memory banks. 

    King had the worst game of his career in the biggest moment. The Buccaneers picked on him throughout the contest. Yet the Packers decided to re-sign the cornerback, albeit on a one-year prove-it deal. 

    With or without King, Green Bay had to have the cornerback spot opposite Jaire Alexander circled as one of its biggest needs. That's especially true after the team didn't dip into the free agency to address the spot. 

    The Packers can't go into another season with the same secondary and expect different results. They'll be torched when it matters most.

Houston Texans: Offensive Interior

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    As of now, Deshaun Watson is still on the Houston Texans roster. 

    "I think we'll take it one day at a time, and everything is pretty fluid here, and we'll adjust as we go. And ultimately, I think we'll do what we feel is best for the Houston Texans organizationally," general manager Nick Caserio said during an interview on The Albert Breer Show this week when asked about a potential Watson trade.

    There have been 21 civil lawsuits filed against Watson alleging sexual assault and misconduct. On Friday, the Houston police department announced that a complaint against Watson was filed and that it was investigating. It's unclear whether Watson will play next season for the Texans or any other team.

    Regardless of who is under center in 2021, Houston's offensive line should take priority. The starting quarterback deserves better protection, particularly along the interior.  

    Neither Justin McCray nor Cole Toner, both of whom signed as free agents, should be viewed as starting options. Both have starting experience, but they're better served as utility options. Even if one outperforms expectations, Houston must address either guard or center.       

Indianapolis Colts: Left Tackle

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    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    The Indianapolis Colts fielded one of the NFL's best offensive lines over the last few seasons, with left tackle Anthony Castonzo serving as its veteran leader and anchor. 

    Castonzo retired in January after 10 campaigns. 

    The Colts still have one of the league's best offensive lines, minus one blindside protector. The solution isn't to simply bump All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson to tackle. 

    "I think there are unique tools and attributes that a guard has to have versus a tackle and a center, and just to plug and play is not the right way to go about it," new assistant offensive line coach Kevin Mawae told reporters. "You want to put the best five guys on the field talent-wise, but also you want to put the best five combination out there."

    The Colts are fortunate to lose their starting left tackle in the same year there's a deep tackle class.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Quarterback

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    This year's No. 1 overall pick is pretty much a done deal. The Jacksonville Jaguars will select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence once the draft opens for business. 

    "I'd have to say that's the direction we're going," head coach Urban Meyer told NBC Sports' Peter King. "I'll leave that up to the owner when we make that decision official. But I'm certainly not stepping out of line that that's certainly the direction we're headed."

    Lawrence-to-Jacksonville is the league's worst-kept secret because it's such an obvious pairing. The 21-year-old is the best quarterback prospect to enter the NFL since 2012, when top pick Andrew Luck held up an Indianapolis Colts jersey.      

    Once Lawrence is in place, the Jaguars can start to build around the quarterback with their nine other picks.

Kansas City Chiefs: Offensive Tackle

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    Brett Carlsen/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs reworked their offensive line like they were on a post-pandemic diet trying to get ready for swimsuit season. The team cut the fat by getting rid of the bloated contracts previous paid to veteran offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz and then strengthened its core by building up the offensive interior.

    The Chiefs are impressive up the middle after the additions of Joe Thuney, Kyle Long and Austin Blythe to go along with the returning Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who sat out the 2020 campaign to help fight the coronavirus.

    Tackle is suspect, though.

    Last year's third-round pick, Lucas Niang—who opted out last season—could take over at right tackle. As of now, the Chiefs don't have a legitimate blindside protector unless the staff surprises everyone and bumps Thuney to left tackle.

    Chiefs brass saw what happened to quarterback Patrick Mahomes during Super Bowl LV. The team's decision-makers didn't make excuses. Instead, they went about improving the situation and should continue to do so during the draft.

Las Vegas Raiders: Right Tackle

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock looked at their offensive line and didn't like what they saw. So they traded right tackle Trent Brown back to the New England Patriots, guard Gabe Jackson to the Seattle Seahawks and center Rodney Hudson to the Arizona Cardinals. 

    While all three moves created significant salary-cap relief, the organization turned around and awarded left tackle Kolton Miller one of the league's richest contracts among offensive linemen (three years, $54 million). The Raiders also brought back guards Denzelle Good and Richie Incognito. And Nick Martin signed to play center.

    Right tackle is where the concern lies. The organization drafted Brandon Parker in the third round of the 2018 draft, but the 6'8" blocker hasn't performed well.

    With this year's 17th overall pick, Las Vegas should land a plug-and-play right tackle who's capable of completing the new-look front.

Los Angeles Chargers: Left Tackle

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Chargers fielded the league's worst offensive line last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

    As such, the team is starting almost from scratch this offseason. Trai Turner, Sam Tevi, Dan Feeney, Forrest Lamp and Cole Toner are all gone. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is the last man standing. 

    Insert All-Pro center Corey Linsley and guards Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi into the lineup via free agency. 

    The next step is finding a proper blindside protector.

    The Chargers haven't had a solid left tackle since Russell Okung last started 15 games in 2018. His medical issues and the subsequent trade in March 2020 created a hole that Tevi couldn't fill.

    Los Angeles won't go into another season with a filler option at a premium position. Trey Pipkins III certainly isn't the answer. The Chargers could find a solution with the 13th overall pick.

Los Angeles Rams: Inside Linebacker

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Despite finishing last season with the league's best defense, the Los Angeles Rams lack the connective tissue between their defensive front and secondary, and the linebackers are suspect.

    The Rams are set to enter the season with the same cast of characters. Micah Kiser, Kenny Young, Troy Reeder and Travin Howard (out last season with a knee injury) aren't the type of athletes needed at the position. The Rams excelled because the defensive front is strong and the unit dropped more defenders in space than any other defense a year ago, according to Next Gen Stats

    More well-rounded linebackers can help the team expand upon an already successful approach.

    The linebacker position is a good place to start since the Rams don't own a first-round pick yet again. Quality second-line defenders are always found beyond the event's opening frame. The Rams should land similar value despite their draft limitations.

Miami Dolphins: Wide Receiver

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins made a bold declaration when they traded out of this year's third overall pick so the San Francisco 49ers could move up and all but certainly draft a quarterback. 

    Tua Tagovailoa is clearly the face of the franchise moving forward. 

    The Dolphins' next course of action is simple: Add more pieces around the quarterback to help the No. 5 overall pick in 2020 realize his potential. 

    The signing of Will Fuller V has already strengthened Miami's group of wide receivers. He and DeVante Parker can be an electric duo. But the Dolphins can add a shiftier option to complement their duo and create yet another option within their scheme.

    The team traded back up to the sixth overall pick after dropping to No. 12 in the Niners swap, so it can add one of the class' premier offensive weapons.

Minnesota Vikings: Defensive End

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Head coach Mike Zimmer's defense is built around the front four creating pressure. The group didn't do that last season, and the Minnesota Vikings ranked 27th in yards allowed after finishing in the top half of the league during the previous campaign. They managed only 23 sacks. 

    Danielle Hunter's expected return from last year's season-ending neck injury will help. The Vikings also re-signed Stephen Weatherly, though he's never produced more than three sacks in any season. 

    Minnesota was at its best when Everson Griffen bookended Hunter. General manager Rick Spielman can take this thought into the draft and find a top defensive end prospect to play opposite Hunter. The decision could become even more important depending on how Hunter bounces back. 

    An aggressive front helps the secondary. The Vikings were exposed on the back end without the traditional pressure packages, ranking 25th in passing defense.

New England Patriots: Quarterback

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Back-to-back one-year contracts doesn't suggest that quarterback Cam Newton is the answer under center for the New England Patriots.The team is clearly looking for a long-term solution. 

    New England did everything in its power to improve the roster around Newton this fall, and the veteran will get a chance to prove himself once again. However, going all-in with the 2015 league MVP seems like folly. 

    Maybe Newton will regain his form and play much better than he did in 2020. His performance will dictate one of two paths.

    Either the Patriots will be forced to move on, or he'll cost significantly more as a pending free agent. In both cases, a move to acquire one of the top-five quarterbacks in this year's class remains the smart play so that New England has the position settled for 2022 and beyond.

New Orleans Saints: Cornerback

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    Brian Westerholt/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Saints worked wonders this offseason to try to get under the lowered salary cap ($182.5 million). Their situation only cost them defensive end Trey Hendrickson, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, tight end Jared Cook, defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and the now-retired Drew Brees. 

    Despite the losses, the Saints' starting lineup still looks solid, as long as Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill turns into an adequate starting quarterback. A lone exception exists at cornerback. 

    Marshon Lattimore is easily the team's top cover corner, though he was recently charged receiving stolen property and may face league discipline. Longtime veteran Patrick Robinson can handle slot duties alongside safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. 

    Lattimore's booked is a complete unknown. Technically, Robinson can play outside, and the Saints have Keith Washington Jr. and Grant Haley to compete at the position. But the idea of New Orleans entering the season with its current secondary setup borders on ludicrous.

New York Giants: Edge-Rusher

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The New York Giants didn't come out swinging at the start of free agency, but they finished strong with the signings of wide receiver Kenny Golladay and cornerback Adoree' Jackson. 

    Those two acquisitions quelled significant concerns at their respective positions and placed a spotlight on a different area. 

    New York doesn't have a legitimate edge-rusher. Outside of the team's franchise player, Leonard Williams, no one on the roster finished with more than four sacks last season. Kyler Fackrell (4.0 sacks), Jabaal Sheard (1.5) and Markus Golden (1.5) are long gone. 

    Lorenzo Carter, who's coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon; Oshane Ximines, who's coming off season-ending shoulder surgery; and free-agent acquisitions Ryan Anderson and Ifeadi Odenigbo are next in line. The group is young with plenty of upside. Still, none of them have proved themselves as consistent pass-rushers.

New York Jets: Cornerback

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Inevitably, some will take umbrage with cornerback being listed as the New York Jets' primary need over quarterback. 

    Yes, the Jets could easily take a quarterback with this year's second overall pick. It won't be a surprise if the front office and coaching staff fall in love with a specific prospect (*cough* Zach Wilson *cough*). Or, the organization may decide to move forward with Sam Darnold and take an elite prospect at a different position. 

    Either way, the Jets will be set behind center with a young option leading the way. 

    Cornerback is far more suspect, and New York is very young at the position without a No. 1 guy. Some combination of Blessuan Austin, Bryce Hall, Corey Ballentine and Javelin Guidry will populate the depth chart.  

    Once the team makes its quarterback decision, it should immediately double-back and address yet another premium position.

Philadelphia Eagles: Wide Receiver

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. The Philadelphia Eagles drafted wide receiver Jalen Reagor in last year's first round after choosing J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the second round of the 2019 class. 

    Wide receiver is still an issue, and the organization basically ruined one supposed franchise quarterback by not building around him properly. It can't afford to do the same with Jalen Hurts. 

    Granted, the Eagles remain "unsure" about Hurts, according to the Associated Press' Rob Maaddi. But the team already traded out of the sixth overall pick and any real chance it had at a top quarterback prospect. 

    The only path forward is giving Hurts weapons.

    Sitting at No. 12, Philadelphia has an outside shot to land one of the top three wide receivers: Ja'Marr Chase, Devonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle. If the franchise misses on all three, the position group is deep yet again and can be addressed later.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Running Back

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are basically rebuilding on the fly. 

    Ben Roethlisberger returns for yet another season, and the franchise will likely kick the can down the road for another year when it comes to the game's most important position. 

    In doing so, general manager Kevin Colbert is forced to build around the 39-year-old and put an offense on the field to match Pittsburgh's standout defense. 

    Typically, the Steelers' offensive line needs would take precedent. They need help at center and left tackle. In this case, a workhorse back would go a long way toward not only improving last year's 32nd-ranked rushing attack but also taking pressure off Big Ben.

    The Steelers can enter next season with Alabama's Najee Harris or Clemson's Travis Etienne serving as the offensive focal point.

San Francisco 49ers: Quarterback

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Jimmy Garoppolo is the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback for now. 

    "We're in a situation where when you bring in a rookie quarterback, to me it's always better, especially on the team that you have, if you've got a veteran starter there already who you like and you're comfortable winning with, that's usually the direction you want to go," head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters

    Garoppolo's time with the franchise is finite. San Francisco traded three first-round picks plus a little more to make sure it wasn't "left at the altar," because the 49ers know Garoppolo isn't good enough for the team to consistently compete at a championship level. 

    Now sitting third overall, the 49ers will likely choose between Ohio State's Justin Fields, North Dakota State's Trey Lance and Alabama's Mac Jones. Whoever the team ultimately lands will eventually push Garoppolo out the door and become the face of the franchise.

Seattle Seahawks: Cornerback

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks are far removed from their Legion of Boom glory days. It's gotten to the point where the team's best cornerback since Richard Sherman left in free agency this spring.

    Shaquill Griffin signed a three-year, $44.5 million free-agent contract to join the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Seattle is left with Tre Flowers, D.J. Reed and Ugo Amadi. While it's a solid group that came together over the second half of the 2020 campaign, the room lacks a true alpha. Griffin served as the team's top cover corner the previous three seasons.

    Ahkello Witherspoon is a solid free-agent addition, but he's never been a full-time starter.

    A true top corner will create a cascading effect throughout the unit. As a whole, the group will be much stronger by addressing the position sooner rather than later.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Defensive Interior

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers accomplished the impossible for a Super Bowl champion: The organization retained its top talent when numerous key contributors had an opportunity to cash in during free agency. 

    Lavonte David, Shaquil Barrett, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette and Ndamukong Suh will be back. The team is built to win now, but general manager Jason Licht can take steps to build up certain units so they have long-term sustainability, with the defensive interior being chief among them. 

    Vita Vea is 26 years old and the anchor up front. Suh and William Gholston will be 34 and 30, respectively, when the 2021 campaign begins, and neither is signed beyond this season. 

    The Buccaneers showed what a dominant defensive front can do. Licht must reload now so the unit can transition from older contributors in the coming seasons.

Tennessee Titans: Cornerback

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans caught many by surprise when they chose to release cornerback Adoree' Jackson after picking up his fifth-year option. The reason why the team made the move is inconsequential because the cornerback signed a big-money deal elsewhere and cornerback is now a problem. 

    Tennessee's top three corners are Kristian Fulton, Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson. Fulton played in six games as a rookie. Jenkins turns 33 later this year. Johnson, meanwhile, struggles to stay healthy and is an average nickel corner. 

    Jackson may not have lived up to expectations, but he still brought outstanding athleticism with plenty of potential to the position. Instead, the Titans are moving forward with a group of defensive backs filled with question marks.

    It's often said a team can't have too many good corners. Tennessee needs one first.

Washington Football Team: Left Tackle

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team will probably miss out on this year's top quarterback prospects, though the organization should do everything in its power to change its current standing.

    Once this realization sets in, the team can move forward with Ryan Fitzpatrick or Taylor Heinicke behind center. In order for either to succeed, Washington must build the best supporting cast it possibly can.

    The organization started with a strong effort in free agency. Wide receivers Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries both signed. More importantly, the front office placed the franchise tag on All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff. Upfront, Washington is now set at four of the five positions.

    Left tackle is a problem, though. Neither Geron Christian Sr. nor Cornelius Lucas should be viewed as the answer. A top blindside protector will certainly make life much better for whichever quarterback starts.


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